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Consulting Skills to Solve Business Problems

The consultant role is essential in today’s complex and challenging business environment.  All types of organizations and business units recognize the value of analyzing business problems and translating them into the right solutions as a key to getting the right work done.  Whether that work is done through projects or ad hoc requests, certain core skills are needed to be effective and to begin operating more as consultants and less like reactionary problem-solvers.  Among those skills is the ability to understand and analyze business problems, break down a problem into manageable pieces, and recommend and “sell” solutions that will adequately solve a problem or take advantage of an opportunity.

This course provides industry-standard, practical skills that anyone performing an internal consultant role needs.  People will learn effective methods to ask good questions, objectively analyze issues, and gather supporting data to understand business problems and improvement areas.  To avoid “jumping to solutions,” this course presents approaches to think critically and understand root causes of problems.  And, since acceptance and understanding by business colleagues of findings and recommendations is critical, our course helps people to learn simple and effective ways to document and present their work.

Many practical and engaging exercises and workshops help walk people through the concepts presented and afford ample practice with the techniques learned. 

Learning Objectives

  • Describe what consulting is and why it is critical to success.

  • Use a systematic process to understand problems, analyze needs, and formulate solutions.

  • Use numerous methods of eliciting the right information from your clients in the right situations.

    • Ask questions that cause clients to express their expectation as well as their requirements.

    • Ask questions that help discover hidden requirements.

    • Interview customers to the greatest effect to understand the right problem to solve.

  • Analyze problems with the help of industry-standard tools such as fishbone diagrams, affinity diagrams, interrelationship diagrams, Pareto charts, etc.

  • Document and present findings and recommendations in a way that gains understanding and acceptance.

  • Help clients prioritize their needs and your recommendations.

Who should attend

This workshop is designed for business analysts, systems analysts, project managers, business people, and anyone who does analysis and recommends solutions for any business “product,” including software, business processes, services, etc.​


Participants should have worked on the analysis, development, maintenance, or enhancement of at least one business “product,” whether it is software, business processes, services, etc. 

Format and Material

To assimilate the tools and techniques learned, there is a mixture of individual and team exercises throughout the course. Exercises and workshops help reinforce concepts learned.  Students need to be prepared for a high level of participation.

Duration: 2 Full days or 4 half days

Course Contents

Understanding Consulting

  • Consulting versus Analysis

  • Roles and Responsibilities of Internal Consultants

  • Forms of Power and Consultant Types

  • Barriers to Critical Thinking

  • Consultant Pitfalls

  • Exercise: Consultant Role Play

Structuring Consulting

  • Consulting Tool: SARIE Approach

  • SARIE and the Consulting Cycle

  • S – Situation:Stating the Problem

  • Exercise: Evaluate Situation Statements

  • Situation Tools

    • Business Questionnaire

    • Systems Diagram

    • Exercise: Create Systems Diagram

    • Client Analysis

    • Workshop: Client Analysis Profile                

Consultative Questioning To Solve Problems

  • Keys to Effective Consultative Questioning

  • Exercise: Good Questioning and Listening

  • Questions to understand expectations

  • Open- and Closed-ended Questions

  • Exercise: Convert questions

  • The Problem with Asking “Why”

  • Exercise: Avoid Asking “Why”

  • Avoiding Leading Questions

  • Exercise: Avoid Leading Questions

Problem Analysis

  • A – Analyze the Situation

  • Divergent and Convergent Thinking

  • The Wisdom of the Group

  • Exercise: Use the Wisdom of the Group

  • Decomposition

  • Analysis Tools

    • 5 Whys

    • Mind Map

    • Fishbone Diagram

    • Affinity Diagram

    • Exercise: Affinity Diagram

    • Interrelationship Diagram

    • Scatter Diagram

    • Pareto Charts

    • Process Diagram

    • Workshop: Use Analysis Tools

Developing Recommendations

  • Barriers to Making Recommendations

  • Developing Recommendations

  • Stakeholder Analysis

  • Tips for Gaining Recommendation Support

  • Recommendation Tool

    • Weighted Ranking

  • Workshop: Develop Recommendations

Presentation of Consulting Results

  • Anticipate Client Responses

  • I - Implementation

  • Implementation Tool

    • RACI

  • E – Evaluation

  • Presenting Recommendations

  • Consulting and Project Management

  • SARIE and Consulting Cycle Revisited

  • SARIE and Project Life Cycle

  • Workshop: Present SARIE

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